It Was Miracle Comeback Weekend At Cheney

August 14, 2017

You wish we would have known ahead of time. I’m pretty sure the Rainiers marketing department could have had a lot of fun if they knew that August 12-13 was going to be Miracle Comeback Weekend for the Rainiers.

On Saturday the Rainiers staged back-to-back comebacks: four runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie, three runs in the bottom of the tenth to tie, and a run in the 11th to win.

Sunday was a different sort of comeback, but still a very unexpected one.

The Rainiers trailed 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning. There were two outs, no one was on base, and Zach Shank had no balls and two strikes on him.  We were a strike away from getting shut out.

But Shank pulled Jimmy Sherfy‘s next pitch into left field for a clean single.

Then Gordon Beckham was hit on the arm by a pitch, and the Rainiers had the tying runner on second base and the winning runner at first.

Danny Muno worked a full count, but he popped up the payoff pitch to shallow left field. Game over, right?

Yup, it was game over – but not how we expected.

Reno shortstop Jack Reinheimer went back on the ball, and appeared to be calling for it. Left fielder Zach Borenstein came in on it, but was not going full speed – he appeared to think Reinheimer was going to grab it.

At the last moment Reinheimer pulled away from it, Borenstein wasn’t there, and the ball plopped to the ground.

Since it was a full count with two outs, Shank and Beckham were running on the pitch. Beckham scored all of the way from first base, and the Rainiers had a stunning 2-1 win.

While the Rainiers celebrated their third straight win, I couldn’t help but wonder about the playoff chances for the Reno Aces. They came to Tacoma on Friday in first place, with a one-game lead Fresno. Now they have choked away two leads (including one big one) and are a game behind Fresno.

Tacoma has never swept a series from Reno, in 35 chances since the Aces joined the league in 2009. Will we see the first one tonight?

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

YesterdayDanny Muno saw his pop fly to shallow left field fall in for a walk-off two-run double and the Rainiers won their third straight game against Reno on Sunday, 2-1. Muno has two homers and a game-winning single in this series. Bryan Evans and Jeanmar Gomez each pitched well in their Tacoma debuts, as did Ernesto Frieri in his second game with the club.

Roster Moves: To activate starting pitcher Bryan Evans yesterday, the Rainiers transferred Dario Pizzano to Double-A Arkansas. Today the Mariners called up Thyago Vieira and optioned Christian Bergman to Tacoma.

Today: Reno (68-53) at Tacoma (61-60), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 8-6.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Taylor Clarke (1-1, 7.50) at RHP Cody Martin (0-0, 4.14).

Hot RainiersShawn O’Malley and Dan Vogelbach each have five-game hitting streaks… Danny Muno has homered twice in this series contests… Mike Marjama has eight RBI over his first six games with Tacoma.

Look Out ForChristian Walker has hit six home runs during a 12-game hitting streak, and he is now tied for the PCL lead with 30 homers on the year… Zach Borenstein had back-to-back two-homer games on Wednesday and Thursday, and he just won the Player of the Week award… Ildemaro Vargas has gone 21-for-45 during a ten-game hitting streak.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:


Wild Ride Ends With 10-9 Victory

August 13, 2017

You could write a book about the final three innings of Saturday night’s game at Cheney Stadium, but with a day game today after the long game last night we only have time to hit some highlights.

Tacoma trailed Reno by a score of 6-2 when we went to the bottom of the ninth inning. The Rainiers had only two hits in the game, and none since the second inning. We were three outs away from a very forgettable loss.

Reno closer Jimmy Sherfy – a PCL All-Star having a tremendous season – walked the leadoff man in the ninth. How many rallies start that way?

An out and another walk later, Mike Marjama pulled a Sherfy fastball out to left field for a three-run homer, and suddenly it was 6-5. The Rainiers were up to three hits on the night.

Dario Pizzano dumped a single into left field, and that was it for Sherfy. Veteran Louis Coleman came in from the bullpen.

Ian Miller greeted Coleman with a single up the middle, sending pinch runner Zach Shank all the way to third. Miller promptly stole second base, and the Rainiers had the tying and winning runners in scoring position.

Shawn O’Malley tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Shank to make it 6-6, but the Rainiers could not get Miller home and we were going to extra innings.

Reno then scored three runs in the top of the tenth, all coming with two outs after an error had extended the inning. Evan Marzilli‘s two-run single was the big hit in the rally, and Tacoma was trailing 9-6.

Once again it felt like a Reno victory as we headed to the bottom of the tenth.

But Dan Vogelbach drew a leadoff walk against Coleman, and it was rally time again. Mitch Haniger followed with an opposite field two-run homers, and it was 9-8.

Reno brought in J.J. Hoover from the bullpen, and he recorded the first out of the inning. Next up was Danny Muno, and he worked a full count before driving an opposite field solo homer to left field, tying the game 9-9. The low line drive just barely cleared the fence in left, Muno’s eighth homer of the season.

Marjama ripped the very next pitch to deep right-center for a triple, and now the Rainiers had the winning runner at third base with one out. But they couldn’t get him in, as Hoover wiggled out of the jam. On to the 11th inning.

Pat Light set down the side in order in the top of the 11th, and the Rainiers rallied in the bottom of the inning against Reno reliever Rubby De La Rosa.

O’Malley started it with a single to center, bringing up Taylor Motter. Looking to move O’Malley into scoring position, Motter did so the painful way: he was smoked in the ribs by a fastball, putting runners at first and second.

Vogelbach was next up, and Reno played the shift with three infielders on the right side, opening up the left side. Vogelbach worked his usual full count before hitting a ground ball through the open left side of the infield and into left-center for the game winning single, and the Rainiers had their most improbable win of 2017.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Dan Vogelbach ended a wild game with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning to give Tacoma a 10-9 win over Reno on Saturday night. Tacoma has won the first two games of the series.

Roster Moves: Yesterday the Mariners called up pitcher Christian Bergman, and optioned Andrew Moore to Tacoma. Mitch Haniger joined the Rainiers on a rehabilitation assignment.

Today: Reno (68-52) at Tacoma (60-60), 1:35

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 8-5.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Jake Buchanan (4-0, 4.89) at RHP Bryan Evans (-).

Evans is coming up from Double-A Arkansas to make his Rainiers debut.

Hot RainiersIan Miller, Gordon Beckham, and Shawn O’Malley each have five-game hitting streaks… Danny Muno has homered in back-to-back contests… Mike Marjama has eight RBI over his first five games with Tacoma.

Look Out ForChristian Walker has hit six home runs during an 11-game hitting streak, and he is now tied for the PCL lead with 30 homers on the year… Zach Borenstein had back-to-back two-homer games on Wednesday and Thursday, and he is 11-for-18 with four homers and 12 RBI in the last four games… Ildemaro Vargas has gone 19-for-42 during a nine-game hitting streak.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 1:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here. It’s a Sunday home game, so Bob Robertson joins me in the broadcast booth.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:


Rainiers Ride Bannister To Victory

August 12, 2017

The Rainiers thought they were in a bind on the mound last night, but fill-in starting pitcher Nathan Bannister changed that.

With scheduled starter Andrew Moore called up by Seattle, the Rainiers had no starting pitcher for Friday’s series opener against first place Reno. So the Mariners promoted Nathan Bannister from Class-A Modesto to make the fill-in start.

It was Bannister’s fourth appearance for the Rainiers this year. He had two starts and one long relief appearance back in May, under similar circumstances.

At that time he was struggling at Modesto, and two of his three outings for the Rainiers were rough ones. However, he did have a sterling performance against New Orleans on May 6, tossing 6.2 shutout innings.

Since we last saw him on May 26, Bannister has been busy turning around his season at Modesto. Over his past ten starts for the Nuts, Bannister is 4-2 with a 2.17 ERA. He’s had pinpoint control, issuing just four walks in 54 innings during that stretch – with 53 strikeouts.

Bannister was in complete command in his return to the Rainiers. He delivered seven scoreless innings, allowing nothing but five singles. He did not walk anybody, and he struck out two while earning his first Triple-A win.

It was a tremendous performance, getting the win while saving the rest of the bullpen.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Nathan Bannister shut out the PCL’s top offense for seven innings as the Rainiers beat Reno on Friday night, 6-2. Taylor Motter, Gordon Beckham, and Danny Muno homered for the Rainiers.

Roster Moves: Getting caught up: catcher Tuffy Gosewisch was outrighted to Tacoma and catcher Steven Baron was sent to Double-A Arkansas, reliever Chris Castellanos was sent to Everett, Tacoma added Nathan Bannister from Modesto yesterday, and Andrew Moore was recalled by Seattle. Today the Rainiers are expected to add pitchers Andrew Albers (trade from Atlanta) and Jeanmar Gomez (free agent signing).

Today: Reno (68-51) at Tacoma (59-60), 7:05

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 8-4.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Braden Shipley (6-6, 6.34) at RHP Tyler Cloyd (1-1, 5.54).

Hot RainiersIan Miller has reached safely in 18 of his 19 Triple-A games… Taylor Motter has hit five homers in his last ten games… Gordon Beckham hit a two-run homer yesterday, and has batted .307 since the all-star break.

Look Out ForChristian Walker has hit six home runs during a ten-game hitting streak, and he is now tied for the PCL lead with 30 homers on the year… Zach Borenstein had back-to-back two-homer games on Wednesday and Thursday, and he is 8-for-13 with four homers and 11 RBI in the last three games… Ildemaro Vargas has gone 18-for-36 during an eight-game hitting streak.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Fresno at Albuquerque was rained out, so Fresno is currently a half-game behind Reno in the Pac-North. They’ll try to play a doubleheader today.
  • New Sacramento outfielder Slade Heathcott had the key hit as the River Cats beat Salt Lake, 5-3. Salt Lake and Albuquerque are now tied in first place in the Pac-South – and both teams are a game under .500!
  • Las Vegas had 16 hits and won in El Paso, 8-7.
  • New Orleans survived a brief (14 minute) fog delay and beat the Sky Sox in Colorado Springs, 6-4. Brian Anderson homered in the top of the tenth inning.
  • Round Rock was trailing in Oklahoma City after five innings, 6-1, before scoring ten runs in the top of the sixth to beat the Dodgers, 11-8.
  • Zach Neal tossed a gem and Nashville handed Memphis a rare loss, 3-1.
  • Omaha outfielder Bubba Starling returned from the disabled list in a 6-5 win over Iowa.

Rainiers Host First Place Reno Aces

August 11, 2017

The Reno Aces arrive in Tacoma tonight, for the first of a four-game series. It’s also our final Friday Night Fireworks show of the season, immediately following the game.

After briefly being knocked out of first place in the Pacific-North Division, Reno has regained the top spot. The Aces have a one-game lead over second place Fresno entering play tonight.

The Rainiers are still mathematically in the race, but it would take an extraordinary hot streak to make a push. Tacoma is ten games behind Reno with 24 to play – and the fact that the Rainiers have to chase two teams makes things even more difficult.

Ultimately, the never-ending roster moves have been the downfall of this Rainiers team, which was sitting in first place with a 29-16 record back on May 24. There simply hasn’t been any stability – and there is no reason to believe that’s going to change over the final three-and-a-half weeks.

Still, the Rainiers can shake up the top of the division. There is this four-game series with Reno starting tonight, and Tacoma has four games at Fresno two weeks from now. Might as well make it tough for these guys.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Nashville scored three runs in the second inning, and two more in the third to take an early 5-1 lead over the Rainiers on Thursday night, eventually winning 7-4. Tacoma and Nashville split the four-game series.

Today: Reno (68-50) at Tacoma (58-60), 7:05

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 8-3.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Eric Jokisch (7-5, 4.43) at TBA.

Hot RainiersIan Miller has reached safely in 18 of his 19 Triple-A games… Taylor Motter has hit four homers in his last nine games… Gordon Beckham hit a two-run double yesterday, and has batted .304 since the all-star break.

Look Out For: Christian Walker has hit six home runs during a nine-game hitting streak, and he is now tied for the PCL lead with 30 homers on the year… Zach Borenstein has had back-to-back two-homer games, going 7-for-10 with four homers and 11 RBI in the last two games… Ildemaro Vargas has gone 16-for-32 during a seven-game hitting streak.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:


Rainiers Look For Series Win Tonight

August 10, 2017

Tacoma has a chance to win the series against Nashville, and a victory tonight will do the trick. Tacoma has won two of the first three games against the Sounds.

The Rainiers have won the home series against the Sounds the last four times Nashville has visited Tacoma.

Nashville comes to town in the odd-numbered years, for one four-game series. The last four times Nashville has visited Cheney Stadium the Rainiers have won the series 3-1.

  • 2009: Tacoma 3, Nashville 1
  • 2011: Tacoma 3, Nashville 1
  • 2013: Tacoma 3, Nashville 1
  • 2015: Tacoma 3, Nashville 1

Kind of eerie, isn’t it? Leading the series two games to one, the Rainiers appear destined to win tonight.

Nashville was the Brewers affiliate in 2009, 2011, and 2013. They switched to Oakland in 2015 and still lost three of four.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Early two-run homers by Dan Vogelbach and Mike Marjama gave Tacoma a 4-1 lead, and then Tacoma scored five runs in the fifth inning and coasted to a 9-2 win over Nashville on Wednesday night. Ernesto Frieri earned the win in relief, pitching 2.1 perfect innings.

Today: Nashville (55-61) at Tacoma (58-59), 7:05

Opponent Affiliation: Oakland A’s.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Ben Bracewell (1-2, 6.89) at RHP Max Povse (1-0, 8.74).

It’s another ‘bullpen day’ for the Rainiers, who will be doing a lot of this in the final weeks of the season. Povse has been pitching from the bullpen lately and is unlike to go more than three innings.

Hot RainiersIan Miller has reached safely in 17 of his 18 Triple-A games… Taylor Motter has hit safely in 11 of his last 13 outings.

Look Out For: PCL All-Star MVP Renato Nunez still leads all of minor league baseball in home runs, with 30… Joey Wendle has a seven-game hitting streak, and so does Yairo Munoz… shortstop Franklin Barreto is a highly regarded prospect.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Zach Borenstein and Ildemaro Vargas each hit two homers for Reno in an 11-2 win at Las Vegas. The Aces opened up a two-game lead over second place Fresno in the Pac-North. The Review-Journal has a story on 51s broadcaster Russ Langer.
  • El Paso won in Fresno, 5-3, behind the pitching of Dillon Overton.
  • After a rain delay and extra innings, top prospect Alex Verdugo launched a three-run homer in the top of the 11th to give Oklahoma City a 6-3 win at Salt Lake.
  • Albuquerque picked up a game on the first-place Bees in the Pac-South by scoring four runs in the ninth and beating New Orleans, 5-2.
  • Victor Caratini doubled twice in Iowa’s 7-3 win over Sacramento.
  • Memphis took down Omaha, 3-2, on Harrison Bader‘s RBI single in the bottom of the tenth inning. Memphis is 37 games over .500.
  • Round Rock at Colorado Springs got rained out for the second day in a row. I heard they are actually playing today.

The Time Chris Carter Went Crazy In The Playoffs

August 9, 2017

Nashville’s Chris Carter is currently visiting Cheney Stadium, where he once put on one of the most impressive displays of power I’ve ever seen

Back in 2009, Carter was an Oakland A’s prospect. The first baseman was promoted late in the season from Double-A Midland to Triple-A Sacramento.

Sacramento was playoff bound (as they always were back then), and in 2009 they were not in the same division as Tacoma. Tacoma snuck into the playoffs by winning the Pac-North on the final day of the regular season, and prepared to play Sacramento in the first round of the playoffs.

Carter had hit 24 home runs for Midland, and another four in just 13 games after his mid-August promotion to Sacramento. Just 22 years old, he was an exciting prospect to watch in the playoff series.

He homered in the first game of the series, at Cheney. Then he homered in Game Two.

The series moved to Raley Field in Sacramento, and Carter homered in Game Three. And in Game Four – a Sacramento win which eliminated the Rainiers – Carter homered again.

He went deep in four straight playoff games against the Rainiers. A one-man wrecking crew. If you’re going to lose a playoff series, it might as well be like this.

Now 30 years old, Carter recently re-signed a minor league deal with Oakland after being released out of the big leagues by the Yankees. The A’s are affiliated with Nashville now, and I’m sure the trip to Cheney Stadium has brought back memories for him.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Nashville scored three runs in the top of the tenth inning and beat Tacoma on Tuesday afternoon, 6-3. Taylor Motter homered for the second straight game, a two-run shot in the eighth which briefly gave the Rainiers a 3-2 lead.

Roster Moves: Yesterday Tacoma added pitcher Chris Castellanos from the Arizona Rookie League, and he took the loss in his Triple-A debut. The Mariners announced they have acquired veteran reliever Ernesto Frieri from the Texas Rangers, and assigned him to Tacoma.

Today: Nashville (55-60) at Tacoma (57-59), 7:05

Opponent Affiliation: Oakland A’s.

Season Series: Tied, 1-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Frankie Montas (0-1, 4.62) at RHP Sam Gaviglio (3-5, 3.79).

Hot RainiersDan Vogelbach had his streak of reaching base in 24 straight games end yesterday… Ian Miller has reached safely in 16 of his 17 Triple-A games… Taylor Motter has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 outings.

Look Out For: PCL All-Star MVP Renato Nunez still leads all of minor league baseball in home runs, with 30. He has a six-game hitting streak, hitting three homers during it… Joey Wendle has a six-game hitting streak… shortstop Franklin Barreto is a highly regarded prospect.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • We have a new leader in the Pac-North, as Reno regained sole possession of first place by beating Las Vegas, 5-3. Christian Walker hit his 29th home run.
  • Fresno fell one game behind Reno when it lost to El Paso, 7-5.
  • Oklahoma City’s Edwin Rios hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning of a 3-2 win at Salt Lake. The Salt Lake Tribune has a feature on Bees general manager Marc Amicone.
  • William Cuevas pitched six innings of the New Orleans Baby Cakes 9-0 shutout of Albuquerque.
  • Iowa knocked off Sacramento in the 11th inning, 6-5, as John Andreoli drove in the winning run.
  • Memphis swept a doubleheader from Omaha, 3-1 and 4-2.
  • Round Rock at Colorado Springs was rained out – they’ll try to play two today.

Rainiers Win Longest Game Of Season

August 8, 2017

We were due for one of these.

The Rainiers finally had a true marathon of a baseball game on Monday night, their first of the 2017 season.

It wasn’t that long in terms of innings. Tacoma won in the bottom of the 12th frame, 8-7, on Zach Shank‘s RBI double down the first base line. When you think of a super-long baseball game, you think about more innings. Fifteen, sixteen or more.

This was a long one based on time of game.

After burning through the first three innings in just 45 minutes, the game slowed to a snail’s pace in the fourth and fifth innings. Pitchers couldn’t through strikes, batters fouled off a ton of pitches, umpires did not enforce pace-of-play rules, and we had several mid-inning pitcher changes.

Two innings – the fourth and fifth – took just under two hours to complete!

When we finished the ninth inning the score was 7-7, and it had taken 4 hours, 7 minutes to get that far.

So why not play another hour?

Tacoma had not played a four-hour game in 2017 until yesterday. The Rainiers won it in a final time of 5 hours, 8 minutes.

I signed off on the postgame show at 12:35 AM – exactly eleven hours before the start of today’s game.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma won in 12 innings, 8-7, as Zach Shank doubled home the winning run. Taylor Motter‘s home run in the bottom of the ninth inning tied the game, 7-7. Tacoma scored three runs on bases loaded walks.

Today: Nashville (54-60) at Tacoma (57-58), 11:35 AM.

Opponent Affiliation: Oakland A’s.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 1-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Michael Brady (3-1, 3.35) at RHP Christian Bergman (8-3, 5.10).

Hot RainiersDan Vogelbach has reached base in 24 straight games… Ian Miller has reached safely in 15 of his 16 Triple-A games… Taylor Motter has hit safely in ten of his last 11 outings.

Look Out For: PCL All-Star MVP Renato Nunez still leads all of minor league baseball in home runs, with 30. He has a five-game hitting streak, hitting three homers during it… Joey Wendle has a five-game hitting streak… shortstop Franklin Barreto is a highly regarded prospect.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 11:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports: